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Triple Crunch Log                                                                                                            

China tightens grip on output of rare earths. Rare earths are a group of 17 minerals used in the manufacturing of products from car batteries, video cameras to military equipment. FT: “China produced 97 per cent of the world’s rare earths last year, and global concerns about that monopoly have peaked in recent weeks, after Japanese traders reported their rare earth shipments were halted during a diplomatic dispute between their country and China. At the centre of this debate sits the Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare Earth Hi-Tech Company, which has quietly grown into the world’s largest producer of the minerals, contributing nearly half of China’s production.”909

UK retailers in talks to join government's green deal. Guardian: “Tesco, B&Q and M&S among companies that could sell loft insulation and home energy improvements as part of the coalition's flagship energy efficiency programme. … Ministers believe that around 14m of the country's 27m homes could be fitted with energy saving measures in the next decade, along with offices and other buildings owned by small and medium-sized companies. The scheme is projected to create between 200,000 and 250,000 jobs. It has emerged that ministers are considering how to persuade most of the country's 27m homeowners to take part in the flagship scheme - which could lead to incentives such as a rebate on council tax or stamp duty. Full details of the initiative, under which companies would install energy efficiency products and the homeowner would pay them back over up to 20 years - though savings in energy bills - are due to be announced in a bill later this autumn. However climate minister Greg Barker, yesterday revealed new details, admitting for the first time that the government might need to offer incentives to encourage greated participation. … Another scheme called the carbon emissions reduction target, which forces energy companies to reduce home energy use, will be reformed to make suppliers install insulation in "hard to treat homes" and allow the "fuel-poor" – whose costs would be too high or bill savings too low – to take part in the main scheme, said Barker. The maximum cost has not yet been announced discussions have been of around £6,000 per home, likely to be used primarily for loft and wall insulation and draught-proofing windows and doors. Microgeneration like home wind and solar panels will not be covered by the project, but could be marketed by selling companies alongside the core efficiency measures, said Barker. Repayments would have to be made in 20 years, but companies would be encouraged to aim for "typically" three to 10 years, he said.910

Czech coal group New World Resources buys rival and plans to incorporate in UK. Telegraph: “A successful takeover of Bogdanka, Poland's only listed coal group, by NWR would create a central European coal giant. NWR also plans to re-incorporate in the UK, in a move that would mean the company was eligible for inclusion in the FTSE series of indices. If a company is included in FTSE indices then index tracker funds are required to purchase the shares. NWR is currently incorporated in the Netherlands. A successful takeover of Bogdanka, Poland's only listed coal group, would produce a company with a market capitalisation of about £2.7bn and create a central European coal giant with 658m tonnes of coal reserves and expected production of 25m tonnes a year. … Bank Handlowy, the Polish unit of Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase & Co are managing the transaction for NWR.911

7.10.10. Sun throws new light on global warming, confounding climate sceptics. FT: “Data from new satellites show that although the sun’s activity – which can be measured in part by observing sunspots – has been at an unusual low, the effect of this has not been to cool the earth, as might have been expected, but to warm it. The research challenges some accepted opinions on the effect of the sun’s activities on the climate, as it suggests that climate models may have slightly over-estimated the sun’s role in warming the earth. Joannah Haigh, professor at Imperial and lead author of the study, said: “These results are challenging what we thought we knew about the sun’s effect on our climate. If further studies find the same pattern over a longer period, this could suggest we may have overestimated the sun’s role in warming the planet, rather than underestimating it.” However, the amount of warming involved either way is very small. …. Prof Haigh said: “This [new research] does not give comfort to climate change sceptics at all – it may suggest we do not know enough about the sun but casts no aspersions on climate models [which] would still be producing the same results without these solar effects.”912

Treasury officials are manoevering to kill the Green Investment Bank, Tom Burke argues. “The political reality is this. Britain will have a GIB if the prime minister really wants one. If he does not, we will have a Treasury designed label occupying the space where a real bank should be. We will also have answered two very big questions: the seriousness of the prime minister's claim to be green and whether ministers or Treasury officials are really running the country.”913

China winning race for green jobs. Guardian: “China is prevailing in the global race for green jobs in sectors from solar panels to advanced lighting, and appears to be on an unstoppable upward path, an annual report by cleantech research firm Clean Edge said on Wednesday. The Chinese government spent $34.6 billion last year to propel its low-carbon economy, more than any other nation and almost double what the U.S. invested. The country is now headquarters for six of the biggest renewable energy employers—up from three in 2008—according to Clean Tech Job Trends 2009. Ron Pernick, managing director of Clean Edge and a report author, called the economic giant's "meteoric" surge "very striking." But, he said, it is "not a fait accompli that China will dominate" across the entire industry. … Total jobs surpassed three million in 2009, recent data from global research group REN 21 finds. China accounted for 700,000 of that amount, due in large part to measures that promote solar heating.914

9.10.10. Npower pays back £70m to millions of consumers let down by Ofgem. Guardian: “Britain's fourth-largest domestic energy company, npower, is to repay £70m to customers it overcharged for gas following a dogged two-year battle by a retired Guardian reader and former art teacher who refused to accept that his bill was correct – and has been proved resoundingly right. For years, executives at npower denied that Carlisle resident Robert Bramwell's figures were correct, and under pressure repaid just £6 to what it said were a tiny number of customers affected by a small mispricing error. But Bramwell persisted in his fight, which was highlighted by Guardian Money and taken up by Consumer Focus. npower has now been forced to repay £60m plus VAT and interest to the 1.8 million customers it overcharged during 2007. Guardian Money understands that it agreed to make the payments, which will average £35 but, in some cases, will be as much as £100, after being told it would be taken to court by lawyers acting for consumers who lost out.”915

10.10.10.David Cameron in U-turn over feed-in tariff payments for early adopters. The UK PM had promised to pay them the FiT but the move has now been ruled out.916

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